Remembering Lee Kuan Yew - Thank you - The nation with you in your final journey - See u in heaven

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Thursday, 26 February 2015

Tharman said Singapore properties had not achieved a meaningful correction

Property prices not yet at 'meaningful correction': DPM Tharman

28 Oct

PROPERTY prices in Singapore have not seen a "meaningful correction" yet, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Tuesday.
"We've seen some correction in both private property prices and HDB resale prices over the last four to five quarters, but there is some distance to go in achieving a meaningful correction after the sharp run-up in prices in recent years," said the chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore at the Credit Counselling Singapore's 10th anniversary luncheon.
"If we do not get a meaningful reversal after each upswing, property prices will run ahead of the growth in household incomes in the long term. And that, we must avoid."

Tharman signals cooling measures not likely to be relaxed soon

Tharman said Singapore properties had not achieved a meaningful correction

File photo of HDB flats. (Photo: TODAY)

SINGAPORE: Signalling that the Government is not intending to relax property cooling measures any time soon, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said on Tuesday (Oct 28) there is “some distance to go in achieving a meaningful correction”.

“If we do not get a meaningful reversal after each upswing, property prices will run ahead of the growth of household incomes over the long term, which we should avoid,” said Mr Tharman, who was speaking at Credit Counselling Singapore’s 10th anniversary lunch.

He noted that there has been some correction in both private property prices and Housing and Development Board resale prices over the last four to five quarters, following the sharp run-up in recent years.

“We can never get rid of cycles in the property market, with the upswings in some years being followed by corrections. Our cooling measures cannot eliminate the cycle, but they aim to temper it,” he said. “What this means is avoiding a bubble during the upswing and allowing for a correction in prices subsequently.”

The Government had introduced several rounds of cooling measures, including the Total Debt Servicing Ratio framework and tightened loan-to-value ratios for housing loans.

Last week, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said it is still not the right time to wind down cooling measures and that there is still room for prices to moderate.

Property crash not likely: Tharman

Yasmine Yahya, The Straits Times, Monday, Jul 07, 2014

The property market is unlikely to crash as the Government acted quickly to prevent a huge bubble from forming, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said.

But he added that the overall movements of the property cycle are determined by market players. In a wide-ranging dialogue with DBS chief executive Piyush Gupta at the annual DBS Asian Insights conference yesterday, he said the Government had taken each step to temper over-exuberance in the real estate market knowing that what it did might not be enough, but also knowing that if it did too much, it might engineer a crash.

"But we started early and we avoided a huge bubble in the market. That's why we won't see a crash," said Mr Tharman, who is also Finance Minister. "But I think a further correction will not be unexpected."

He added: "I don't think the cycle is over but the market determines the cycle. The Government has put in place rules, stamp duties and restrictions... but market players will determine where the cycle goes."

In the hour-long dialogue, which touched on subjects ranging from Mr Tharman's outlook on the global economy to his favourite things about Singapore - the multi-racial society, the food and the weather - Mr Tharman also expressed his optimism for the Chinese economy.

"Certainly amongst large economies it has the most complex economic challenges. It also has, in my opinion at least, the most capable economics team amongst the larger economies."

China faces many challenges, he noted. As the Chinese leaders undertake the major task of transforming the economy into a market-driven one, Chinese leaders also have to contend with "legacy" issues. These include shadow banking, over-investment and high levels of credit that have built up in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis. Nonetheless, he said China's government is "closer to ideal than anything they've had in a long while, both in terms of capability as well as the ability to make decisions".

Mr Tharman was also optimistic about India's prospects. The first thing new Prime Minister Narendra Modi has focused on is "clarity and getting things done", he noted. "Mr Modi is quite focused on streamlining approvals for projects, especially infrastructural projects, on reducing the number of agencies you need to go to at the federal and state level, and just getting things done." This in itself is a significant improvement, Mr Tharman said.

Touching on productivity, Mr Tharman encouraged consumers to do more themselves, giving an example of how hotels in Sweden leave coffee pots on the table for customers to pour themselves.

"It's the quality of the coffee that counts," he said to laughter and applause.
This article was first published on July 5, 2014.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.

Property crash unlikely, measures in place: Tharman

Property prices in Singapore may fall further, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Friday.

“I don’t think the (property) cycle is over,” he said to a question at the DBS Asian Insights Conference.

He said it is unlikely that the market will see a crash as the Government has introduced cooling measures early to quell any potential housing bubble.

Mr Tharman’s remarks come on the back of calls by some, including the chairman of property developer City Developments (CDL), for the government to review some of the cooling measures it has put in place.

On Wednesday, CDL chairman Kwek Leng Beng said, “The overall picture seems to suggest that it may be timely now for the Government to take another look at the cooling measures introduced and make adjustments accordingly.”

A day earlier, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) released flash estimates which saw private residential prices in Singapore fell 1.1 per cent to 209.3 points in the three months ended June 30. This followed a 1.3 per cent decline in the previous three-month period.

Prices have been falling for 3 straight quarters since last year.

Mr Kwek said that because of the cooling measures which the government has introduced since 2009, “foreigners were choosing to plough their investment dollars into countries like Britain, Australia and the US over Singapore, while Singaporeans have been investing abroad.”

“We are losing these investments to other countries even though these foreign properties have a higher risk profile,” Mr Kwek told The Straits Times. “It is unlikely these investment dollars will return to Singapore.”

However, the government seems to hold to its position that the measures are still necessary.
“The market determines the cycle and the Government has put in place rules and stamp duties,” Mr Tharman said on Friday. “We’ve also pumped in a fair bit of supply into the market. But market players will determine where the cycle goes.”

Dismissing fears that the market will crash, Mr Tharman, who is also the Finance Minister and chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said, “[I] don’t think we’ll see a crash, because we moved early enough. And we moved each step of the game, knowing full well that what we do may not be enough, but if too much we might engineer a crash.”

“So, we started early, moved step by step and avoided a huge bubble in the market. That’s why we won’t see a crash. But I think further correction will not be unexpected,” he added.

Mr Tharman’s remarks echo that of the Ministry of National Development on Monday.

“It is still too early to relax the property market cooling measures,” said a ministry spokesman. “If the measures are removed prematurely, we could see a sharp increase in demand and housing prices.”

Read also: “CDL chairman again calls on gov’t to ease property curbs“.

URA stopped Developers using SOHO (Small Office Home Office)

Daniel Choy is a professional Commercial and Industrial Property Trainer and Coach. I wrote the article to Forum Page because I felt that the Developers are misleading the Public. It was such a impressively argued article that URA finally decided to stop developers from using the term SOHO to mislead the public. If you are interested to be train as a smart Commercial and Industrial Property investors or agents, do write to to indicate your interest so that I can include you in the next training schedule.

Letter to Straits Times FORUM PAGE by Daniel Choy Tuck Leong

Soho marketing tactics confuse buyers

03 Apr 2013, Straits Times
I READ on the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) website that residential home owners or tenants who want to conduct selected small-scale businesses from their homes can do so under the existing Home Office Scheme.

Because of this, developers are creatively marketing their projects for small office, home office (Soho) use, even though the URA does not recognise Soho as a planning term and does not specifically approve a development for Soho use.

This confuses potential buyers. Why does the URA allow developers to use such marketing tactics to fetch higher prices and boost sales?

What about buildings zoned for commercial use, sitting on commercial land, and being marketed as Soho? Can a commercial building that is used for office purposes be approved for residential use under the Home Office Scheme or other schemes?

What about commercial buildings in a white zone, where some blocks are used for fully commercial purposes while others are used as Soho? Buyers are confused on whether to purchase units under the residential or commercial category.

With the introduction of the additional buyer's stamp duty and lower loan-to-value ratios for residential units, buyers would, of course, prefer to purchase units under the commercial category.

Developers should not be allowed to market their projects as Soho and confuse buyers. If a project is meant for solely residential or commercial purposes, this should be made clear to buyers.

Daniel Choy Tuck Leong

URA's Reply

Developers must spell out allowable use of properties

06 Apr 2013, Straits Times
WE AGREE with Mr Daniel Choy Tuck Leong ("Soho marketing tactics confuse buyers", Wednesday) that potential buyers should be made aware of the limitations on a development's allowable use.

Mr Choy correctly pointed out that small office, home office (Soho) is a marketing term used by property agents and developers. It does not refer to any specific development type that is allowable or has been approved by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Developments that have been marketed as Soho are approved as either office or residential developments.

Without explicit prior planning permission from the URA, any development that has been approved for office use cannot be converted to residential use, and vice versa.

However, if an owner of a residential property wishes to conduct some small-scale business within his home, he can apply for permission by lodging a notification under the Home Office Scheme.

Introduced in June 2003, the scheme allows home owners, tenants or authorised occupiers of residential properties and flats to conduct small-scale businesses within their homes, provided they do not cause any inconvenience to neighbouring residents, and the proposed use is considered a permitted use.

To minimise disturbances, only up to two non-residents can be engaged and work in the premises for their businesses. Details on the Home Office Scheme can be found at allowable use for each property is clearly spelt out in the option to purchase, and in the sale and purchase agreement.

Developers also have to ensure that the marketing materials for their properties, for example, newspaper advertisements, and sales brochures or pamphlets, provide accurate information to prospective buyers on the allowable use of the properties.

Prospective buyers who come across misleading marketing collaterals can report the matter to the URA, which will then investigate and take action against the developer if there is misconduct or misrepresentation.

Prospective home buyers can also refer to the Home Buyers' Guide ( on the URA's website for more information on the sale and purchase of uncompleted residential properties.

Han Yong Hoe
Group Director (Development Control)
Urban Redevelopment Authority

 Circular from URA because of Daniel Choy's feedback

Usage of the Term "Small Office Home Office" - From URA

Effective date
With effect from 25 November 2013
Usage Of The Term “Small Office Home Office”
  1. We have received feedback on the use of the term “Small office home office” (SOHO) in newspaper advertisements, sales brochures and pamphlets.  In particular, purchasers may be under the impression that their property can be used concurrently or interchangeably as a home and an office.  This circular will provide greater clarity to developers on the use of the “SOHO” term, when marketing their projects.
SOHO is a marketing term
  1. SOHO is a marketing term used by developers and estate agents. It does not refer to any specific use or type of development that is allowable or approved by the Competent Authority under the Planning Act.  The planning permission for a unit marketed as a SOHO unit is for either residential or office use but not for both uses.
Residential properties and the Home-Office Scheme
  1. Residential units are intended for long-term residential stay, and cannot be converted to other uses, like commercial uses, that could cause disturbances and inconveniences to residents. However, under the Home-Office Scheme, owners of residential units can use their homes to conduct small-scale businesses, provided they do not cause disamenity to other residents. To do so, the owner must register for the home-office use under the Home Office Scheme (see for details). Only small-scale businesses that comply with the planning guidelines applicable to home-offices (e.g. not hiring more than two non-resident employees) are permitted within residential units. Other commercial businesses or uses that do not meet the guidelines are not allowed.
  2. To provide more clarity for purchasers of residential properties, we strongly urge developers who use the term “SOHO” in any of their advertisements to highlight the approved use of the unit to prospective purchasers. Developers should let prospective purchasers know the restrictions on its use by inserting the following pre-approved clause in the Sale and Purchase Agreement and disclosing the contents of this clause to intending purchasers before the acceptance of the booking fee:

    “Approved Use of the Unit
    The Unit is approved for use for residential purpose under the Planning Act.  The purchaser may not use the Unit for any other purpose unless permitted by the Competent Authority or authorised under the Planning Act.  The Purchaser is authorised to use the Unit as a home-office for a small scale business only if the conditions for the change to home-office use as set out in the Planning (Development of Land Authorisation) Notification e.g. lodging the required registration form for the change in use with the Competent Authority, are complied with.
Office properties are not allowed for residential use
  1. Office properties are to be used according to their approved use (i.e. as offices), and are not meant for residential use. Hence, developers should refrain from using the term “SOHO” for office developments in any of their advertisements and should not make any representations to intending purchasers that the office units may be used for residential uses.
Marketing collaterals
  1. Developers are required to ensure that representations made to prospective purchasers, including but not limited to those in advertisements (e.g. in newspapers or websites) and sales brochures for their projects, are accurate.  The Controller will not hesitate to take action if developers are found to have contravened any rule.
  2. If developers engage estate agents to assist them in marketing their properties, they should provide estate agents with accurate information about the allowable use of the development so that estate agents would not misrepresent any information to the prospective purchasers.
  3. I would appreciate it if you could convey the contents of this circular to the relevant members of your organisation. If you or your members have any queries concerning this circular, please do not hesitate to call our hotline at Tel: 6329 3512 or e-mail us at We will be pleased to answer queries on this subject matter. For your information, our past circulars to the professional institutes are available from our website
Thank you.

Be clear on Soho, URA tells developers

Units marketed as such may be a home or an office - but not both
The Straits Times - November 26, 2013
By: Janice Heng
Be clear on Soho, URA tells developers
The Cape (above) is one of Far East Organization's Soho developments. The term Soho usually refers either to homes with design elements such as high ceilings aimed at buyers who may work from home, or to small offices. But the URA says ''Soho'' does not signify any official planning status. -- PHOTO: FAR EAST ORGANIZATION
DEVELOPERS here have been warned to be careful when marketing properties as "small office home office", or Soho units.
They should make it clear to buyers that the term Soho does not refer to any official planning status, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in a circular yesterday.
Units marketed as Soho have planning permission for either residential or office use, but not for both, the URA said.
It issued the circular to professional institutes, including the Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore, after receiving feedback on the issue.
When "Soho" is used in marketing, it usually refers either to small offices, or homes with design elements such as high ceilings aimed at buyers who may work from home.
It is more often used to refer to residential units rather than office ones, said Mr Ku Swee Yong, chief executive of real estate agency Century21.
But as for what exactly a Soho residential unit allows, "the market has been confused for a while already", he said.
Many employees may legitimately do some work from home. What is not usually allowed is running a business out of a home.
Small-scale businesses can be run out of homes only if owners register for the "home-office scheme".
The business must meet guidelines such as not hiring more than two foreign employees.
The URA strongly urged developers to insert a clause stating the approved use of the property in the Sale and Purchase Agreement.
As for all office properties - even if marketed as Soho units - they are not meant for residential use.
Developers should not give a different impression, and "should refrain from using the term 'Soho' for office developments in any of their advertisements".
Far East Organization said it is not marketing any commercial developments under its dedicated 'SO/HO' brand at the moment.
"We support the greater clarity on the use of the 'SOHO' term as set out in the latest circular by the URA," said executive director of property services Chng Kiong Huat.
He added that Far East has "made it a point to highlight" that buyers must comply with regulations if they want to use their residential unit as a home-office.
A call for such clarity was made in April when Mr Daniel Choy wrote to The Straits Times' Forum page, saying the term 'Soho' confuses potential buyers.
His job as a real estate agent is made harder by such confusion, he told The Straits Times yesterday.
He would like developers to be barred from using the term.
Mr Ku sees the circular as aiming "to make our developers a little more disciplined" and raise awareness among agents. But he doubts it will clear the air: "I think the confusion will still go on because there aren't any real punitive measures."
The URA also said developers should "provide estate agents with accurate information".
Regardless of how projects are marketed, agents should be clear on the facts, said Mr Jeffhery Foo, president of the Institute of Estate Agents, Singapore: "There is an onus on us to make such clarifications upfront."

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Temasek to contribute more to govt income. Change could boost govt coffers by $4b-$5b annually, says economist

Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015                      

Temasek to contribute more to govt income. Change could boost govt coffers by $4b-$5b annually, says economist

Published on Feb 24, 2015 2:49 AM

By Wong Wei Han

THE Government is moving to include up to half of long-term investment returns from investment company Temasek Holdings in the national financial accounts. One expert has given a rough estimation that the move could add $4 billion to $5 billion a year to the Budget bottom line. The Government will seek a constitutional amendment later this year allowing it to include Temasek as a contributor to its Net Investment Returns (NIR) framework as it prepares for more social and infrastructure spending. The NIR framework was set up in 2009 to allow the Government to spend up to 50 per cent of the expected long-term real returns on its net assets managed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and GIC. These are both realised and unrealised capital gains - that is, future projected returns. The change will help Singapore strengthen its long-term fiscal position as its funding needs rise, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said yesterday. The inclusion of Temasek as a contributor to the framework was deferred owing partly to a lack of established methodologies for projecting its returns. "We are now ready for our spending rule to be based on the total expected returns of all three investment entities, including Temasek," Mr Tharman said. "(The inclusion) would enable us to spend based on its total expected returns, including realised and unrealised capital gains, and not just actual dividends paid by Temasek to the Government." CIMB economist Song Seng Wun said the move will be a boost to the Government's coffers. "Temasek's total shareholder return rate over 20 years is 6 per cent in nominal terms and likely around 4 per cent in real terms. With a portfolio value of $223 billion as of last year, Temasek may contribute some $4 billion to $5 billion to government revenue annually. With the higher NIR revenue and tweaks to tax income announced this year - not forgetting the previous surpluses - the Government has more than enough to fund its social and infrastructure projects," he said. Government spending is set to rise to about 19 to 19.5 per cent of economic output on average over the next five years, Mr Tharman said, owing to higher spending to enhance health care and transport infrastructure among other needs. Health-care spending will jump from over $9 billion this year to over $13 billion in 2020, while $26 billion has been committed for the next five years to improve public transport, he added. "It is now timely that we have this further enhancement to include the expected returns of Temasek in the NIR framework… It continues to ensure that we spend from our reserves in a sustainable manner, so as to benefit both current and future generations."

Lower childcare fees for parents under new scheme

Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015                       

Lower childcare fees for parents under new scheme

Published on Feb 24, 2015 2:41 AM
 By Kok Xing Hui

PARENTS whose children are in childcare centres stand to benefit from lower fees under a new scheme. While details are still scant, the new partner operator scheme will have childcare operators commit to keeping fees affordable. A median-income household could pay around $100 less in fees a month, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam. This example is based on a household paying $500 a month in childcare fees after a $400 subsidy. The Straits Times understands that one aspect of the scheme is to get small operators to share resources so as to keep costs down, as Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing had said in January. Mrs Liaw-Tan Xinhui, director of Ameba Schoolhouse, which has one centre, said operators might not be willing to share resources such as teachers or curriculum as these are their selling points. But she said she is willing to join other pre-schools in organising events or share back-end resources such as administrators. Account manager Ong Boon Hua, 33, whose four-year-old son attends NurtureStars @ Safra Mount Faber, said he hopes the pre-school will join the partner operator scheme. He pays about $350 in childcare fees after subsidies, instead of the regular $1,000, and hopes to pay even less. The money he saves on childcare could then go towards the care of his parents, who live with him in a three-generation household of seven. The new scheme is meant to complement the current anchor operator programme, where operators get government grants and rental subsidies in exchange for providing affordable and quality pre-school education. With the two schemes, the Government aims to have about half of pre-school children in Singapore benefit from more affordable and quality pre-schools by 2020, said Mr Tharman. The Government will spend $250 million on enhanced support for both schemes over the next five years. Families will also get help in paying for pre-school fees with a top-up to the Child Development Accounts of Singaporean children aged six and below this year. Most children will receive $600, while those with an annual home value of more than $13,000 will receive $300. The top-up will cost $126 million and benefit 230,000 children. For a middle-income household, the top-up of $600 can cover more than a month of childcare costs after subsidies, said Mr Tharman.

Cash payouts for the poorest elderly Starting next year, they will get an average of $600 every three months

Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015

BUDGET 2015 Cash payouts for the poorest elderly Starting next year, they will get an average of $600 every three months

Published on Feb 24, 2015 2:40 AM

By Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor
TO FORGE a new compact of "fairness in retirement", the Silver Support Scheme will entrench cash payouts for the poorest elderly in Singapore. Payouts will start next year and will amount to an average of $600 in cash every three months. The scheme aims to support the bottom 20 per cent of Singaporeans aged 65 and older, with a smaller degree of support extended to cover up to 30 per cent of seniors, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday. The scheme will be a permanent feature of Singapore's social safety net for every needy person who reaches the age of 65, unlike the Pioneer Generation Package that was designed for only a specific group, he said. It is closer in nature to the Government's landmark Workfare scheme of supplementary cash payouts to low-wage workers. Together, the two schemes will "help mitigate life's disparities", said Mr Tharman. Like in Workfare, Silver Support beneficiaries will be enrolled automatically. The news was cheered by social workers yesterday, who have long advocated for easier access to assistance. The quarterly payouts range from $300 to $750, depending on three measures: flat type, the amount of household support that the elderly person has, and his lifetime wages as reflected in Central Provident Fund contributions. Silver Support is not only for the neediest elderly, he noted. The initial group of beneficiaries totals 150,000, getting a sum to the tune of $350 million a year. Mr Tharman emphasised that the scheme's cost will grow as more Singaporeans turn 65. But it is "the fair thing to do: helping fellow citizens who end up with much less in their retirement years", he said. "Silver Support reflects the values we must preserve as an inclusive society." The poor elderly "have contributed in their own way during their prime years, whether at work or at home raising the family". Mr Tharman said that given the major, long-term nature of the scheme, the Government will not rush in its implementation. It needs time to properly identify those who are eligible and develop the necessary systems, he added. To ease the wait of about a year before the payouts start in the first quarter of next year, Mr Tharman said an extra Goods and Services Tax (GST) Voucher of $600 will be given to seniors aged 65 and older who live in Housing Board flats. So, this group will get a total of $900 in GST vouchers from this year's Budget. Observers welcomed the Silver Support Scheme, praising in particular its automatic enrolment feature and the fact that a bigger- than-expected group is eligible. Experts said the amounts given should be monitored and raised to keep up with living costs. "It is ground-breaking that Silver Support is based on the needs of the recipient and is not reliant on employment," said women's rights group Aware's research and advocacy director Vivienne Wee. "This is a good first step towards a universal basic pension." Mr Wee Lin, chairman of non-governmental organisation Sunlove Abode, said there is a lack of understanding among Singaporeans of how poor some of their fellow citizens are. Welcoming the scheme, he said: "We owe it to the old people. We have to somehow make it such that they can live without having to worry, 'Where's the next meal going to come from?' "

Monday, 23 February 2015

Singapore Property Projection - Khaw Boon Wan - 2 years on, Projection vs Actual

Nearly 200,000 new homes by 2016: Khaw

The Straits Times - January 19, 2013
By: Daryl Chin

ALMOST 200,000 new homes are expected to hit the market by 2016, Mr Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday, as he gave the assurance that there are enough homes for all.
In a blog post, the National Development Minister also said that the slew of measures announced last week to cool the property market are intended to protect first-time buyers.
They are largely exempted from the measures, which include higher stamp duties and down payments, as well as tighter loan-to-value limits.
Mr Khaw said the current pent-up demand and market imbalance is caused by under-building in the past and the high investment demand today. "But we have been ramping up supply, and in two, three and four years' time, supply will have caught up with pent-up demand."
In the next three to four years, there will be an additional 80,000 private properties, 10,000 executive condominiums and 110,000 HDB flats - equivalent to building four new Ang Mo Kio towns.
Mr Khaw also sought the understanding of investors hit by the new rules and hoped they would accept that the package would also be good for them "in due course".
"In any case, many of the new measures are counter-cyclical in nature, to be lifted when the market regains its balance," he said.
SLP International research head Nicholas Mak said that while the projected near-200,000 homes is big, "the reality is that many first-timers are still priced out of the market today, although that may change in the next few months if the new measures are effective".
First-time buyers like advertising executive Jezreel Ow, 25, are hoping for that outcome. "Everything except my career is in limbo and on hold, until I can afford my own place."

Better balance now between home buyers, sellers: Khaw

The Straits Times - Febuary 21, 2015
By: Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

FOUR years of hard work ramping up the construction of new homes has paid off, according to National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan.
In a blog post yesterday, he said that the planned increase in number of homes had led to a better balance being struck between buyers and sellers.
Last year, 51,598 new homes were added, outpacing the projection of 47,505 made last May. This has helped property prices adjust with supply better meeting demand.
"Our residential market has achieved a better balance between sellers and buyers," he said. Last year marked the first full year in which home prices fell, he noted.
"This was a great relief for home buyers," he said. But as the decline was moderate, "it was also a relief for home sellers and home owners".
He added that a collapse of the housing market would benefit no one. Construction is expected to slow in the coming years, going by the updated figures Mr Khaw provided yesterday.
Last year, the supply of new homes for 2014 to 2017 was projected to be 200,034 units. But with the adjustment of the Housing Board's supply of Build-To-Order (BTO) flats, the new figure now stands at 195,788.
There will be 26,000 HDB flats completed this year, 8 per cent fewer than last year's 28,300. The number of new flats is expected to be kept at 25,000 each year from next year to 2018. This year, there will be 21,359 new private homes - a 7 per cent rise from last year.
But in the coming years, there is expected to be a slide to just 9,836 in 2018. That year, the number of new units, including public flats, will be the lowest in recent times - just 38,316.
Singapore currently has about 1.28 million homes - 960,000 of which are HDB flats. By early 2018, the total is expected to swell 11 per cent to 1.43 million.
Mr Khaw said home buyers will continue to have plenty of choice.


More room to shape landed homes

The Straits Times - 12 Feb 2015

OWNERS and developers of landed homes will have more flexibility when it comes to redevelopment, under new rules announced yesterday.
The changes give greater leeway when it comes to altering the interiors of properties, but there will also be more scope to change the outside area as well, including making improvements to attics and basements.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said the new rules, which kick in on May 11, "simplify the existing guidelines... while safeguarding the low-rise character of landed housing estates".
The changes will give architects more scope in the interior design as long as the overall external size of the home still fits within a three-dimensional limit, or "envelope".
One change is to the floor-to-floor height requirement, which is now 4.5m for the first storey, and 3.6m each for the second and third storeys. Under the new rules, this will be up to the owner's preferences.
This means owners can vary floor-to-ceiling height, add more mezzanine floors or have higher ceilings in living and dining areas, said W Architects managing director Mok Wei Wei.
The new guidelines also relax a rule that requires the third storey to be set back an additional 1m from the first and second storeys. This requirement will go so the third storey can align with the lower floors and be more spacious.
The URA will also do away with a rule requiring attic roofs to be pitched, while basements may protrude more than the 1m above ground level as allowed now.
This will mean better ventilation and light for houses with attics and basements, said Bukit Sembawang Estates executive director and chief executive Ng Chee Seng. The company will adopt the new guidelines for its landed house projects in Seletar Hills.
Mr Mok said: "It may overall be possible to achieve more built- up area. This is a much better set of guidelines to work with."
The new rules will also bring tighter restrictions on total maximum permissible heights.
These have been reduced for three-storey homes from 17.7m to 15.5m, and from 14.1m to 12m for two-storey ones. "This is the typical height that most landed houses are currently built up to under current guidelines and will respect the low-rise character of our landed housing estates," said a URA spokesman.
National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in a blog post yesterday that the new guidelines will most likely benefit people in intermediate terraces.
Larger houses like good class bungalows tend to have enough space to play around with design, experts said.
The rules are being introduced following a pilot scheme at Sembawang Greenvale. Its 65 houses - 55 terraced and 10 detached homes - were completed last May under the new guidelines.
Landed home owner and Sembawang resident Tracy Low, 55, said: "There will be more variety in landed housing now."
But while the design of a house can influence its price, the value of a landed property is still derived predominantly from the location, age, tenure and type, said Mr Desmond Sim, CBRE research head for South-east Asia.
The URA said it will allow minor additions and alterations to landed houses under the current guidelines.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

What factors supporting and sustaining property price?
What factors determine that investing in property can never go wrong?
- Population growth
- Economic growth
- Salary growth
- Land scares
- High liquidity, bank very willing to lend
- Many exciting future plans and govt is carrying them out
- Very low interest rate and very high inflation environment
- Strong Currency